Creative Carers, Wire Sculpture Making, June 2023.

Creative Carers at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, workshop makings. Photo credit: Sarah Ruttle.

Creative Carers at Home: Justin Grounds and Ian. Photo by family member.

Creative Carers at Home, 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Ruttle.

Creative Carers, Musical Morning with Justin Grounds.

Creative Carers in the Community 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Ruttle.


Participants are characterised as family carers who care for an older adult or who are themselves an older adult.


The aim is to create a diverse and inclusive arts programme delivered across West Cork, with family carers and professional artists from various disciplines.

The programme works as an integrated strand of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme, linking in with existing healthcare partners in day care and community hospitals, whilst creating a new network of community-based organisations with a focus on family carers and older people.

It was envisioned that participants on the programme would benefit from a blend of arts and health objectives including access to the arts and artists’ practice, peer support, community network building and creative engagement.

It was also anticipated that participants would experience an improved sense of wellbeing and build personal resilience from creative and social engagement.

Their feedback would imply that these objectives are being reached:

‘I loved how they invited me to other carers events. No judgement, a chance to escape the carers duties and forget your worries.’ – Participant at community event

‘Warm, friendly atmosphere. Being encouraged to relax and let go. It was very freeing and forgiving, a whole new experience.’ – Participant at community event

‘Myself and my father (Ted) absolutely loved the artist’s weekly visits. It was a beautiful journey of music, memories and swapping of stories… It also brought me out of the humdrum of caring into a lovely space of connection.’ – Participant at home

‘Ian is so happy after his music session and the joy it brings into our home is immeasurable so long may this programme continue in West Cork.’ – Participant at home

‘I enjoyed every part. I especially liked the playing around with the words and wire art.’ – Participant at Arts Centre

‘It was time for me and everybody was so helpful.’ – Participant at Arts Centre


A broad range of programming and delivery approaches are taken to ensure as many access points into the programme for family carers as possible, all delivered by artists with a high level of expertise in working in an arts and health context.

Each engagement will have its own set of objectives that responds to the participants’ needs. This might take the form of skills-based learning, durational creative processes, viewing or experiencing arts.

Several strands have been formed to articulate the possible choices:

  • Creative Carer Series are weekly group workshops exploring visual art or music in a social and relaxed way, delivered by artists in an arts or community setting.
  • Creative Carers at Home is a series of one-to-one sessions with an artist to research and investigate ways to embed creative engagement in our lives.
  • In The Picture group sessions are co-delivered with a dementia care specialist and an artist, taking a dementia friendly look at real artworks over a shared cup of tea.
  • Bringing Art Home continues a legacy of remote working to reach those who are not able to leave their home. This artist-led project invites participants to collaborate on a given idea to foster creative engagement via the post.
  • Carer Events organised with community coordinators present once off events in community spaces such as drop-in workshops, concerts, exhibitions, and information check-in points.

Artistic Outputs

Artistic outputs are generated through the project such as individual artworks made by carers, new musical compositions, and exhibitions of work produced; however, the relational aspect of the art process remains paramount.

Evaluation Methodology

A full year evaluation took place in 2022, caried out internally by staff at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. The collection of data and analysis was carried out by Pheobe Cotton and overseen by Justine Foster.

A mixed method of research is adopted including surveys, journals, and interviews.

An online questionnaire is completed after each engagement by the artist and after each series by participants.

Evaluation Outcomes

The key outcomes were largely positive:

  • With a total of 76 participants in 2022, the programme made progress in establishing connections with the home carer community in three areas of West Cork.
  • The structure of the programme – including different settings, activities and group or solo work – sought to make participation as accessible as possible to people providing care at home and to cater to their different needs and interests. This was largely successful as evidenced by the positive feedback from participants in the At Home strand and Uillinn workshop series and expressed interest from participants and artists in continuing both.
  • Artists felt that their work on the Creative Carers programme had contributed positively to their own creative practice. The opportunity to work with carers complimented and provided a new perspective on their existing work with people in a care setting.

The challenges in 2024 are building the network of community workers in local link and Family Resource Centres to enable the geographical reach. In 2022, it was recommended to reach out geographically through these roles. Recruitment for the positions has proved challenging so the growth of the programme geographically is slower than expected.

Documentation and Dissemination

A dedicated page on the Arts for Health website holds the static information about the work. Occasional blog posts and social media are shared to invite participation and record achievements. Activity is visually documented by the artists and participants on an ongoing basis.


Lead partners: HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare and Cork Education and Training Board

Local Partners: Local Link Services, Cork County Libraries, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Community and Family Resource Centres.

Date of Publication

January 2024

Project dates

The programme planning began in 2021 and the first full year of programming took place in 2022. The programme is designed to be sustainable and so will continue as long as the needs and resources are there.

Lead organisation

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Funded By

HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare


Áine Rose Connell, Bénédicte Coleman, Justin Grounds, Philippa Donnellan, Sarah Ruttle, Sharon Dipity


Music, Visual Arts

Healthcare context(s)

Older People, Primary Care/ Community Health, Training & Education

Nature of project

Collaborative/ participatory



Web link


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